One Step Behind the Game: Detroit Lions Are Draft Away From NFL Success

Ryan CookFeatured ColumnistAugust 14, 2010

Calvin Johnson
Calvin JohnsonGregory Shamus/Getty Images

Stand up and praise the Lord; finally, the day has come that sees the Detroit Lions labeled as a decent team in the NFL.

Okay, so the Lions have a number of obvious problems still outstanding, but when it comes to who is the worst team in the entire league, gone are the days of Detroit being Public Enemy No. 1, and now we arrive in the days of the St. Louis struggle.

For the most part, it's been all cheers in the city of Detroit.  The Tigers nearly had a perfect game, the Red Wings are still a strong team, and although the Pistons are arguably a below-.500 team, they do have a future on the horizon.

But more importantly, the Detroit Lions have given this struggling economic area a lift, and has promised them something to smile about in the coming years.

If you were to ask a Detroit fan how they felt about their football team in the present time, I guarantee you they'll give you a rather optimistic answer.

However, it is hard to argue with a team that features a barrage of promising rookies, not to mention a strong fanbase that is proud of their team, and will never resort to hanging their heads in some kind of "Aww shucks" attitude, portrayed by Eli Manning some three years ago.

Before we can totally focus our sights on the future though, let's ask a question that is relevant to the present time:  How realistic are the Lions being when it comes to this season?

Well, if you searched around the Internet, I am sure you would find a number of opinions.  But perhaps the most realistic one, is that Lions fans are hopeful, but not willing to place all their eggs in one basket.

I guess the best way to look at the Lions right now is simple.  Acknowledge them as a rebuilding team, but don't write them off; they have a bundle of tricks up their sleeves.

And what tricks am I talking about?

Firstly, there is the recent additions of Ndamukong Suh and Jahvid Best, two players who have been well documented the past two weeks, for their dedication in training camps, despite Suh's initial holdout earlier this month.

Secondly, there is of course Matt Stafford.  Given he did get off to a rocky start last year, and is surely not the favorite to win any type of award this season, there's still no questioning where his heart lies, and his dedication is toward the city of Detroit.

Finally, there is the coaching.  While I have been critical of Jim Schwartz in the past, it seems nowadays he has placed the puzzle together, and along with offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, has fast-tracked his once-struggling offense to a place that is respectable to say the least.

Now, I was no great genius when it came to mathematics in high school, but to me, this equation of young rookies and college standouts is definitely expected to perform exceptionally well if not this year, then in the coming two or three.

For you see, every team goes through a rebuilding stage.  It is how that team rebuilds though, that sets them up for the future.

So what grade would I give Detroit?  Easy, I'd give them an A-.  They've had no poor drafts where the team has pulled a Jacksonville Jaguars and drafted only a single talented player, they've had no real setbacks, and even though they went 0-16 in 2008, they have bounced back rather well.

Still, when it is all said and done, this is the Detroit Lions, and the term "rebuilding" is still in effect.

Recently on Herm Edwards' Twitter account, he made the statement that the Lions were a draft away from being a well-balanced team.

Even if you don't always agree with the coach, he does make a justifiable statement, as Detroit have most pieces in place, but still lack a few key positions.

The main position that is a concern in Detroit is still the wide receiver spot.  While some extremely notable talent has appeared in Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson, the Lions do lack depth, and a key injury this season would only backpedal the team to where it first began.

The other position worries are at the cornerback spot.  For a handful of years now, the Lions have struggled season in and season out to maintain consistency at the corner spot, and this season sees an all-out race between Chris Houston, Jonathan Wade and Amari Spievy for the starting role.

Do you agree with Herm Edwards now? 

Yes, the Lions do look good, and yes the Lions are talented.  Unfortunately though, some tests lie ahead, and the biggest one is to overcome the NFC North division.

While everybody else is drooling thinking of the possibility of Detroit maybe finishing second in the NFC North, others are keeping in mind that Lions tickets are still being sold for $30, indicating that it is still a struggling franchise.

The Lions' motivation this offseason is worth appreciating.  They've promised their fan base something and delivered, even if it took longer than expected.

Detroit may surprise this season, but before you go ahead and mark them down as a stable and possible postseason team, give them one more draft in April, then they will be a complete side.


Ryan Cook is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report . He is also an NFL columnist for Real Sports Net and a Green Bay Packers writer for Fan Huddle and PackerChatters . Ryan is also a contributing writer for Detroit Lions Talk, Gack Sports and Generation Y Sports .  Don't forget to follow him on Twitter .


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